The Jesuits used to say (perhaps they still do), "Give me a boy until he is 7, and I'll give you the man."
If it is true that one can clearly see the shape of things to come in a child at 7, if it is the case that nurture's strongest impact has already happened by the time they reach that magical number, then today I raise a glass to both my efficient genes and my earnest, if imperfect, efforts at parenting.
Because my daughter, who turns 7 at 1:05pm today, is wonderful. She's sensitive, strong and kind. She's fun, and funny. She's very intelligent, and she's ever so curious about everything in her world. She has a fearsome temper, and deploys it, but is learning to contain it, in her own ways. And that fierceness shows up in so many positive ways - in her vibrant enthusiasms for new subjects, in her defence of anyone she sees being attacked, in her passionate concern for the world and its people.
Any small part that I had in that - even if it was simply providing a safe environment for her to develop - I celebrate it. And I celebrate her.
Happy 7th birthday, Miss E, my very lovely secondborn daughter. I love you more than the stars, today and every day.